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Dad sees me start to cook, comes in to the small kitchen, notices a task he can do, and gets in my way. My deterrents don't work. Ideas? He has mild cognitive impairment. He's wonderful, helpful, bored, and in my way. I need him out of my way as I have a bad knee and it already hurts just to be standing and walking. To work around him is too hard on my knee. The kitchen is very small, but there's a chair by the window and it overlooks the ocean. That goes ok sometimes, but I need new ideas please.

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That's a good idea too. My dad doesn't have dementia, but he is set in his ways. He has a tendency to be rather anxious when he's waiting for something. He will sometimes stand over me while he waits. It drives me nuts. I just say, "Daddy, please don't stand over me while I look for that statement. It's too unnerving. I'll come and get you when I find it." He complies. I don't think it hurts his feelings. He sometimes forgets and I have to remind him to not stand over me while I look for something.
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You could always just try the direct approach and ask him to leave you alone while you are cooking. Simple, done.....

If he continues to do it guide him gently out with your hand. Eventually he'll get the hint.
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I'm not sure what level your dad is at, but is he able to distinguish between numbers? What if you save sale papers and have him sort through them and circle the best buys. And with plastic scissors, could he clip out coupons? They may be for things you don't use, but you could say you trade them or give them away at work. So he doesn't have to know you aren't using them.

I think that paper shredder idea is great.
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Big hug.
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Thanks blannie! I just do it because he is the man I was so passionately in love with for 35 years. Now it is just an extension of my mind and body to care for him. I don't know how I will handle it if he stops walking. That will be the straw that breaks the camel's back! As long as he can move around I can still handle it. Once he is immobile I will have to put him in a home! We are in year 10 now and I pray it is over soon.
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A big virtual hug to you, Wamnanealz. That must be very difficult to deal with on a daily basis! I don't know how you do it. Hugs!!
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My husband could no sooner do any of these chores than a tree branch could. He is helpless, speechless, has no understanding of anything. He is sitting here watching me write this right now! By the time he started really shadowing me, his mind was too far gone to explain or even show him how to do anything. I am totally serious. He is just right next to me every moment. Even follows me tot he bathroom. Just like a puppy dog! There is no answer for stopping him from doing this!
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No putting away of groceries. He has to be OUT OF THE COOK'S WAY!
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Another thought after reading more messages....ask him if he'll be in charge of putting away the groceries. Perhaps, if necessary, add labels to the various shelves where different products go - i.e., a shelf area for eating soups, cooking soups, out of season canned fruit, etc. That way he can be assured of putting things in their proper places.

That can be his special responsibility.

He could also take inventory, using a form you've drafted, marking off cans as they're used so you know what to buy.

If he does that before dinner, you could tell him that he's done well and he can take a rest in the living while you're prepping and making dinner.
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Ccflorida, you have my sympathy. I'm glad my father still helps. However, I understand your frustration. I also use the rule of while I do this task, you go there and do that task. For example; while I assisted mom the other day, I asked dad to go unpack the stuff I had brought to cook. I also asked him to make room in the refrigerator for leftovers.

This makes everyone happy.

I think you have received some great suggestions.

Be blessed!
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Occupy him in another room... WWII patriotic music. No shredder-EXTREMELY BAD IDEA!!!!!!!
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I like the previous idea about prepping fruit or veggies. However, that can be done on one's lap with a plastic bowl or pan, tray, platic bowl in a dishpan, etc, Also, it doesn't have to be for the current meal but for a later snack or the next day. It can be easy or harder, pulling grapes off stems, stems off cherries, peeling easy fruits like those small mandarin oranges.

Other lap type jobs could be opening up mail with a letter opener. It could be more junk type mail if you are concerned about it getting damaged or lost, cutting coupons with safety scissors, looking through grocery ads and circling good things on sale, listening to radio or tv program together depending on hearing level.

Also have you considered meals on wheels for some or all of you, or a family sized frozen meal such as lasagna, etc, from a good brand, so cooking is basically putting it in the oven and maybe a bagged salad or microwaved vegetable?

Hope you find something that works.
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I can relate to this situation -my Mom tries to help in the kitchen at dinnertime, and since the kitchen is small, she slows things down a lot. Not that she is getting in my way, just making things complicated for me. I totally get that she should be commended for even trying to help, and that smooths over any resentment. It's still HER kitchen, HER house, etc. so even though I'm doing all the work, she still has a right to be there.
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I find that my faith in God is my best support. He is all I have and all I need on most days.
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I worked with a stroke victim, who did the exact thing. My shrink explained they need direction. Give your Dad 3 different things to do, such as get the potatoes, peel them, place them in pot. Then when he comes back, ask him to get the plates, then the silverware, then the glasses. Always ask in the form of a question, can you get the plates? Keep the directions simple, and lots of praise. Not only will it give you space, but it will benefit him.
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Dear one...you sound exhausted. I wonder when the last time YOU had a day off?
When I am " over it"... I find myself mirroring the behavior of my husband...short attention span,compulsive behavior, automatic anointed...I try to break the routine
By removing myself from the situation,going to my room,listening to CD with either positive message or gentle music. It's not the length of time ( sometimes only 10 minutes...but it shifts my energy and enhances my residence to see things in a new way. May you have a sense that you are supported from within and all around. Know that I'll be thinking of you and your courage when I feel that way too.
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It could be worse. My husband stands next to me in the kitchen, while I am walking all around him and then he poops his pants like an 18 month old. Never says a word to me. Just next to me all the time like a puppy! But he is driving me crazy!
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beautiful ideas- thank you all very much!
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PS: 'Being shadowed' - that is such an amusing way of putting it. Love it! I can picture the scene! :-)
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Hi I think the idea of getting your Dad to do the work while YOU sit is a nice one. You could do the cutting stuff on a TV tray and leave him to do other things. You'd have to possibly change the kinds of meals you make to make it easier for him. It needn't be every day. You could have a 'chef's' roster. My dementia friend refuses to do dishes till they run screaming out of the house themselves. But when I go to visit, he jumps up eager to do them because he has company and it makes the task bearable. Also, you might try writing out your recipes in copious detail and get him to sit and read them out to you while you're busy. Or get him to make a list of recipe changes/ alternatives while you're busy, e.g. you could be making a pizza and ask him to make a list of alternative toppings to be tried next time. 'Ring the changes.' I, for instance, have started using packet onion soup in my spagbol and it is a great alternative to wine or beer. Make it 'the creative hour'. Which brings to mind another idea, just that. Make cooking time the time when he must sit and come up with x number of creative things to do. Today, Dad, we're going to think about ways to make the kitchen more user-friendly and you're going to write all these things down while I'm busy.
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Good morning ccflorida! I do really understand how frustrating cooking with pain in a tight space can be. One last thing that is a weakness of mine: Be sure the dishes are clean and put away before starting dinner. "Dad, can you put this away while I sit in the director's chair and have my coffee?"
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Remodel the kitchen area with simple changes. We bought one of those plastic foldable/collapsible tables at Costco, can be used instead of tv trays. Look up tiny house living for space-saving ideas. I once moved the refrigerator into the hall closet space to put a nice round table in the kitchen, because the family that eats together, stays together. You can sit on a stool near the stove to help your knee.
Take a tylenol before starting dinner. Check your pre-dinner anxiety level and have Dad prepare fruit and cheese h'ordourves, with crackers, being too hungry, too tired can make one too angry. Get treatment for that knee.
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I'm going to sign off now, but will look here in the morning. Thank you very much everyone, I really appreciate it.
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hhmm, ok I'll give it some thought, re: meal-related task, but I am a doubter there. I work in a triangle of space, mainly refridg, sink, stove. I don't want him in that triangle. The other corner is the chair. It's a director's chair, and no table. I really think my question is actually what can we do with him and that chair and me making dinner. Four ideas so far I'm going to try. Best for me is him reading the newspaper there. He will tell me so many parts, it's almost like reading it to me. There might be more ideas. He could write something. I was going to write down what we eat, on a calendar (to know what to repeat and get new ideas). I could see if he wants to do that for me.
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My knee hurts too, sometimes I have to hand my husband a spoon and say stir this as I run out of the room in pain. Sometimes, I just turn off thd stove and leave. When I come back, it's almost cooked. If you would prep from the tv trays, you wouldn't have to stand as long. Tacos tonight? Can Dad use a knife? We are living in 395 sq. Ft., sitting in the living area facing the kitchen is possible.
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Poor Dad- he just wants to be needed. I think that's one of the biggest factors of old age and limited mobility - men and women who were the parents who cared for their little ones for years no longer can even take care of themselves. It must be so humiliating and devastating.

When you have a few moments, jot down everything you do to prepare a meal and think if there's a way he can help. Get out the plates, silverware, even if it is ahead of time. Get out the ingredients for whatever you're making? Help clean up afterwards?

I think the key is finding some way to delegate your mealtime preparations so that he can help. You may need to be creative, but he'll enjoy it so much and feel so grateful.... and worthwhile, validated, and needed.
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Sendme2help, that's perfect for us. I had not heard of Connect Four. thanks!
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blannie- I just looked back and saw that you suggested he read the paper to me! Yes, I thought of that too just now. I'm going to try that tomorrow.
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There is a game, you can play it with him while you cook dinner. Like checkers. This is called Connect Four, you drop small checkers into the slots to make a row of four. The first to make four is the winner. THIS CAN HELP WITH DAD's cognition, AND YOURS! The thibg stands up so you can see ths rows from the stove.
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Maybe I could get a small shredder (for paper) that could balance on a lap desk. He wants to shed a lot of things, and we have that stuff backed up. We have a shredder in another room, but it's too big for the kitchen area, which is tiny. I don't think even a small shredder would be feasible. I could set him up at the table on the other side of the pass-through. Ok, getting there-
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